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Review: Rez HD

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Rez HD is a very unique experience. I do not know what Tetsuya Mizuguchi and team were on when they made this game, but I imagine that the game was designed to be played under the influence of high dosages of ecstacy. I personally did not have opportunity to experiment and The Bitbag does not condone the use of illegal substances while playing video games.

Although it is considered a rail shooter simply because of the fact that you have limited control over which direction the “avatar” moves, this thought never occurs to the player, because they are too busy trying to figure out what is going on and what all the images are supposed to represent. I had never even heard of the game, much less the fact that it was previously released on the Sega Dreamcast in the US. So, I had no idea what to expect. This lead to major lack of comprehension about the objectives of the game.

So, let me give you a rundown of what I discovered after I completed the game. You are a hacker trying to reboot a super computer network that has become self-aware and has decided to shut itself down. As the hacker, you go through various levels cleaning virii and then encountering a boss at the end of each of the first four levels. I had heard that the game is not worth playing until the fifth level is unlocked. Good thing, because I was getting somewhat bored through the third and fourth levels and was about to give up. But, I trudged on.

They were right. The fifth level is where the digital elements give way to a “virtual” world that seems to be a digital rendering of what it might have been like to witness the creation of the Garden of Eden. How appropriate, because Eden is the name of the AI that you must conquer. I won’t spoil anymore. I only mention this much, because you at least have to get to this part.

One thing that I did not realize until after I completed the fourth level was that there is something in this game called Node Awareness. That means you can pass through a level and eliminate all of the characters and beat the boss, but still not get full credit for it. I had passed the first four levels, but the fifth level had not unlocked. What the . . .? Then, I noticed on the third level that the progress percentage was only 80%, so I played through again, but this time, I made sure to shoot all of the Network nodes to unlock every single area of the level.

The last thing I want to highlight is that by picking up various power-up items, your avatar can evolve into a more humanoid figure. You start off as a crude human figure and if you collide too many times with the enemy or their projectiles, you get reduced to just a sphere. Game over if you collide too much as a simple sphere. If you continue to pick up the power-ups, you upgrade twice to become completely human. After that you upgrade into a human sitting in a cross-legged meditation position in a sphere. Finally, you can upgrade into something that looks like an atomic molecule. Each upgrade of course equals stronger firepower.

I cannot fully recommend this to everyone. It is a unique experience. If you were a fan of the original version, then you definitely want to pick this up. If you are fan of rail shooters and trance music, you definitely want to pick this up. Otherwise, I think the demo should suffice, because the gameplay gets pretty repetitive. It is nice that they unlock tons of features after you have completed all five levels, but I cannot say that these unlockables make this game a must-buy.

Also, trance vibration? Nothing to write home about.

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